Wisconsin Highway 119

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State Trunk Highway 119 marker

State Trunk Highway 119
Airport Spur
WIS-119 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by WisDOT
Length1.9 mi[1] (3.0 km)
Major junctions
West end I-41 / I-94 / US 41 in Milwaukee
  WIS 38 in Milwaukee
East endMilwaukee Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee
Highway system
WIS 118WIS 120

State Trunk Highway 119 (often called Highway 119, STH 119 or WIS 119), better known as the "Airport Spur", is a connector freeway in Milwaukee, in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The 1.89-mile (3.04 km) freeway connects Interstate 94 (I-94) to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. WIS 119 has had many different iterations dating back to 1919, and since has had five other variations including the modern day route; these different roads were short lived but were located throughout the state of Wisconsin in the Milwaukee area, Manitowoc and Green Bay.

The current route starts at I-41/I-94 and has just one more exit at WIS 38 (Howell Avenue) before ending at the airport; until 2007, WIS 119 was not signed but was commissioned and appeared on highway maps as a de facto unsigned route. After travelers in the area became confused because the route was not signed, officials decided to change the exit signs from I-94 in order to include the highway. There have been plans to rebuild WIS 119 as part of a larger project in the Milwaukee area.

Route description[edit]

STH 119 starts at Interstate 41/Interstate 94 exit number 318 and continues eastbound as a four-lane freeway,[2] it progresses through a mainly residential area for most of its length. There are multiple official signs about Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport along the route going eastbound which mainly detail airport parking.[3] At the terminus the speed limit drops to 35 miles per hour (56 km/h); the road terminates at Wisconsin Highway 38 giving an option to either exit onto that highway or continue into the airport.[2][3][4]


State Trunk Highway 119 has had many different versions throughout different areas of Wisconsin; the first route debuted in 1919 as a short connector trunkline along the present-day route of Wisconsin Highway 83; within a few years this routing was replaced.[1] The next version of the road was completed in 1924 starting at Wisconsin Highway 19 in Pewaukee and continuing to downtown Milwaukee.[1] In 1930 the route was "decommissioned" leaving part of the road in local control and the other becoming a piece of U.S. 16. In 1931 State Highway 119 reappeared in the Manitowoc area.[1] In 1956 U.S. 141 ended up supplanting STH 119, leading the short route to be taken into local control.[1] STH 119 was commissioned again in 1968 in Green Bay.[1] Like its predecessors this variation of the route was eventually decommissioned and replaced by a BUS US-41 designation.[1]

Photo of the exit sign for the STH 119 taken from I-94, the signs were recently added after travelers had a hard time finding the route.

As described in a 1974 Milwaukee County memorandum, the modern route was originally planned as one of five new freeways, it was the only one ever built.[5] The road was designed to offer more support to a growing Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport and facilitate travel between the airport and Interstate 94;[5][6] the project received multiple criticisms, such as the relocation of a historic B-25 bomber and the resignation of a highway official.[7] This along with other factors prompted the Milwaukee Common Council to oppose the new freeway, and instead suggest a new airport be built outside Milwaukee County;[8] the new airport was not built and in 1978 the freeway was completed.[5]

On April 10, 2007, the Wisconsin DOT changed the exit signs from I-94 for the Airport Spur, removing unclear signs only showing the airport name combined with an airplane pictogram, to clearly identify the exit as Wisconsin Highway 119. According to Wisconsin DOT official Tom Heydel (quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Road Warrior column), the signs were changed after local and out-of-town drivers asked why the exit and ramps leading to the road did not have the Highway 119 notation.[9] Since publication of the 1983–84 official map, state highway maps, maps from the local Milwaukee Map Service (which are often used for local navigation and dispatching purposes) and online mapping sources have labeled the route as Highway 119, though many road atlases and less expensive maps left the road unlabeled beyond the notation "Airport Spur", often because the map scaling of a Milwaukee-area map would leave little room to indicate Highway 119's presence without the indicating shield covering the entire route. However, travelers had trouble finding the road, which was not identified as Highway 119 by highway signage;[1][9] as part of the rebuilding of the I-94/US-41 corridor there have been plans to rebuild the route into "less of a freeway and more of a gateway."[10] According to Robert Gutierrez a project supervisor, the plan would be to turn the freeway into "a boulevard of sorts."[10][11] This project lasted from 2009 until the end of the 2010 construction season.[1][10]

Exit list[edit]

The entire route is in Milwaukee, Milwaukee County.

0.000.00 I-41 / I-43 to I-94 / I-894 – Milwaukee, Chicago
1.893.04 WIS 38 (Howell Avenue)Road continues under local control to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bessert, Chris. "Wisconsin Highways: Highways 110-119 (Highway 119)". Wisconsin Highways. Retrieved 2007-03-20.
  2. ^ a b c "Milwaukee County" (PDF). Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WDOT). January 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-01-25. Retrieved 2009-06-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Airport Spur map". Google Maps. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  4. ^ "Parking at Mitchell International Airport". Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  5. ^ a b c Bessert, Christopher. "Milwaukee Freeways: Airport Spur Freeway". Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  6. ^ "'76 was a big year for Mitchell Field". The Milwaukee Sentinel. April 19, 1977. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  7. ^ "Bomber Loses to Freeway". The Milwaukee Sentinel. November 30, 1976. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  8. ^ "Site Change For Mitchell Field Urged". The Milwaukee Sentinel. May 8, 1973. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved 2009-06-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ a b Sandler, Larry. "Signs recognize spur's dual identity". The Road Warrior, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
  10. ^ a b c Sandler, Larry (February 13, 2006). "Airport Spur may get a makeover". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  11. ^ "Mitchell Interchange/Airport Spur/College Avenue" (PDF). Wisconsin Department of transportation (WDOT). Retrieved 2009-06-24.